Intel backs Qnovo in a move that actually makes sense

Intel has a bit of a "spray and pray" investment approach. Backing Qnovo actually makes sense, though!

galaxy note 4 microsd
Credit: Derek Walter

Intel has, frankly, had a fairly bizarre approach towards investments, acquisitions, and initiatives. It is a company that, at every turn, is jumping onto the latest shiny thing. For a vendor that makes the vast majority of its revenues from selling silicon, it's surprising where Intel turns up. Most recently I was a little incredulous that Intel's much-talked-about acquisition of API management vendor Mashery had gone sour, leading Intel to offload the company to Tibco (a home that makes far more sense to me).

But I have to give praise where it is deserved, and here is a deal that makes sense. Intel has just joined in with a number of other investors in the Series B funding round for Qnovo, a vendor that is focused on creating software to enhance battery performance. Qnovo is focused on a 2016 launch of smartphones that will incorporate Qnovo's adaptive charging technology. 

Essentially the Qnovo thesis goes like this: The battery is widely viewed as the weakest link in today’s mobile devices. Consumers routinely complain about insufficient run time, slow charging, and short battery lifetime. Qnovo wants to resolve these compromises with an innovative approach to battery charging that delivers faster charging and longer run time without degrading battery lifetime.

Quite simply,  Qnovo develops charging algorithms that improve battery performance. By augmenting battery chemistry with software, Qnovo adaptive charging results in faster charging, increased daily runtime, and longer battery lifetime. 

And this makes total sense for Intel - after all, one of the barriers to increased performance and functionality at a silicon level is the power requirements - today's battery technology can only get us so far, and a hyper-performance mobile device doesn't make much sense if the battery only lasts five minutes.

The big value here for Intel is that Qnovo's technology goes beyond mobile devices - Intel and Qnovo are going to work together to use the Qnovo technology in notebook PCs and wearable devices.

Of course, the battery world isn't standing still, and there are many parallel efforts to improve batteries themselves. This could potentially be disruptive to Qnovo's market opportunities. For the meantime, however, this is a deal that makes sense - for both Qnovo and Intel. Let's just hope that Intel actually follows through on this opportunity.

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